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2012 Never Again List

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Each season I make a list called the “Never Again” list. This is a list of players, many of whom have exceptional, game-breaking talent but have had a big problem living up to their own hype for various reasons. Owners have taken a leap of faith with many of these players over the years, and their hearts have been broken multiple times because of it. Seasons have been lost because of these chronically under-performing players. Never again, my friends.

2012 Never Again List

Darren McFadden

If this article had a picture to go with it, it would surely be of Darren McFadden. If there was a “Never Again” museum it would have to have a large statue of McFadden in the front of it. The story on McFadden has always been that he’s an amazing talent, if only he could stay healthy. Looking at his 2012 season, though, half of the games he’s played in have been good, the other half stinkers.

The Oakland Raiders abandoned their previous zone-blocking run scheme this year and it has had a negative impact on McFadden’s stats. He’s already had three games this season where he’s rushed for less than 33 yards, four games, if you count the game he was injured in Week 9, where he only ran for 17 yards. He’s already missed two games this season and may miss his third this weekend.

In McFadden’s five-year NFL career, he’s already missed 21 games, four games a year on average. Before, there was always the lure of how amazing he could be, if he could only stay healthy. Taking a long look at his up and down season, though, even when healthy, he’s been underwhelming half the time. It’s time for owners to write McFadden’s name again on the “Never Again” list. This time in pen, please, not in pencil.

Jeremy Maclin

One of the running themes of this list are players who can’t stay healthy. Anyone who has  owned Maclin over the years knows that he’s on the injury report almost every single week. Even if he’s healthy, there’s always a chance he can disappear and not produce like he did last week with his zero catch performance against the horrid Washington defense. Or like he did in Week 4 when he had one catch for seven yards. Or how about against the New Orleans Saints a couple weeks ago where he had two catches for 28 yards?

To be sure, Maclin still has a lot of talent. He has had three games this season where he’s gone for more than 90 receiving yards, catching a touchdown in all of them. Unfortunately, the dangerous mix of having a shaky quarterback situation in Philadelphia, being injury prone and having the consistent ability to disappear in games makes him a No. 3 receiver at best. He’s the kind of player you want to stay away from in drafts and only get him if he falls; never reach for him. Also, be sure to have a quality No. 4 receiver on your roster if you pick Maclin, because you know it’s only a matter of time before he gets hurt again.

Philip Rivers

On pace for 4,036 passing yards, his lowest output since the 2008 season, Rivers isn’t who he used to be. While his passing yards have gone down every year for the last three seasons, his interceptions gave gone up, on pace for a career-high 22 interceptions. He’s not even a Top 10 quarterback any more. More like a Top 15 quarterback and yet he was drafted as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback last August.

With the loss of Vincent Jackson, combined with Antonio Gates aging, combined with coach Norv Turner’s questionable play-calling, combined with Rivers just not being as accurate as he once was, it’s safe to say Rivers’ best days are behind him.

DeMarco Murray

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you on this one as I predicted he’d be the biggest bust of 2012. Just as he was in college and in his rookie season, he’s continued to be injury prone. He’s already missed six games this year, making it over half a season that he’s lost. He’s a talented player, but if you haven’t been able to stay healthy your entire career, dating back to college, it’s fool’s gold to think that magically in 2013 he’ll finally be able to play a full slate of games. Never again, my friends.

Larry Fitzgerald*

The NFL hasn’t seen a player with this much explosive talent get wasted on a horrible team since Barry Sanders was running for the Detroit Lions. The Arizona Cardinals haven’t been able to give Fitzgerald a half-decent quarterback since Kurt Warner retired. All Fitzgerald would really need is just a mediocre quarterback. Nothing special. I’m not asking for the moon here. Just an average quarterback but even that’s been hard to come by in Arizona.

All of this has predictably had a disastrous effect on Fitzgerald’s consistency. He’s on his way to career lows in receiving yards and touchdowns and he’s not even in the Top 20 for fantasy receivers. He’s had two games, including last week’s game against my beloved Atlanta Falcons, where he’s only caught one pass. He’s had four games where he’s been under 55 receiving yards.

I’ve put an asterisk near his name in the hopes that the Cardinals will finally get him a quarterback next season. If that ever happened, Fitzgerald would be right back in the Top 5 fantasy receivers, right where he should be. Until then, though, I can’t recommend drafting Fitzgerald, certainly not in the second round like he was drafted last season. If I asked you if you would spend a second-round pick on a receiver, who's not even in the Top 20, you’d say I was a crazy. You’d be right.

Ryan Mathews

Ryan Mathews may be the most overdrafted and overrated running back in fantasy football over the last couple years. Even though he missed the first two games of the season, he has stayed relatively healthy this season but his production just hasn’t been there. Similar to Fitzgerald, we’re talking about a guy that’s not even ranked in the Top 20 at his position.

Mathews has yet to break 100 rushing yards this season and he has more fumbles (two) than touchdowns (one). He has a 4.1 yards per carry average, which is OK, but certainly nothing to get excited about. He’s the kind of running back that was drafted in the second and third rounds last year but his production just doesn’t come close to matching that price. Because of his high draft price and his low output, I’m not touching Mathews next season, regardless of what all the fantasy magazines tell me about his “next” comeback season.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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